Jessica uses nitrogen isotopes, especially carbonate-bound organic matter in fish otoliths (ear stones) to track biogeochemical processes and food webs on multiple time scales. She is affiliated with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Princeton University, MarineGEO, and she is a Leifur Eiríksson Foundation Fellow.
By studying the isotopic composition of proteins that are protected through time in a robust calcarous matrix, Jessica sheds light on oceanographic and ecological conditions of the past, for example, the paleoecology of Miocene fishes using otoliths from Panamá Isthmus marine sediments. These studies address critical questions concerning marine ecosystem functioning prior to current anthropogenic impacts, especially the role of biodiversity in ecosystem stability, the role of large fish in marine food webs, and how changes in nutrient availability affect food web structure.
I heard the first time of Jessica during a lab meeting with Aaron O’Dea and I reached out to her for help with getting isotopic signatures out of lucinids fossils. Jessica advised us on how to prepare the shells and got me hooked on dremeling.